with 🎙️ Katrina Donaghy – CEO & Co-Founder of Civic Ledger
💧 Civic Ledger is an award-winning blockchain company that builds trust layer solutions for the markets of tomorrow
What we covered:
❌ How today’s water management often resembles a market failure
💧 How water markets are often not optimized and hence water doesn’t flow to its best use
🦘 How the Australian water markets in particular are an example of a scattered, financialized, and opaque set-up
₿ How blockchain could turn water into a non-fungible token – and how that could be good news
💰 How a crypto exchange platform would look like, and how it would work
💸 How leveraging cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and water ledgers, we could decentralize water finance
₿ How Katrina’s Bitcoin encounter was a serendipitous moment
🤝🏿 How you can’t go 100% blockchain from the get-go and how Civic Ledger splits smart contracts into two
🤲 How integrating water markets with blockchain finally brings 23 markets together with a common real-time source of truth
🚚 How water is non-fungible because of its heavy and hard-to-transport long-distance nature
📟 How the next frontier would be to couple blockchain trading with a hydrologic digital twin (and why)
🔋 How ironic it is to blame blockchain’s energy consumption while altogether avoiding the point with gold and physical money
🌎 Interlinking with mineral flows and ESG investment, Competing with centralized trading in this new ESG realm, Working with the World Economic Forum, developing patent NFTs… and much more!
🔥 … and of course, we concluded with the 𝙧𝙖𝙥𝙞𝙙 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙚 𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 🔥
Teaser: Water as a Non Fungible Token
🔗 Have a look at Civic Ledger’s website
🔗 Come say hi to Katrina on Linkedin
is on Linkedin ➡️
Infographic: Blockchain turns Water into an NFTInfographic-Katrina-Donaghy-Civic-Ledger-Water-Blockchain-NFT
Quotes: Water – a non-fungible token?Quotes-Katrina-Donaghy-Civic-Ledger-Water-Blockchain-NFT
Table of contents
These are computer-generated, so expect some typos 🙂
Get Season 2's Summary!
Antoine Walter: Hi, Katrina. Welcome to the show. Excited to have you today excited for many reasons, one of them being that I was really looking for your area of expertise and it took me a bit of travel around Google. And I’m really happy that I stumbled upon you. And we’re going to discuss this element of stumbling upon, because I think that’s also part of your path, but let’s start with a good old tradition.
Can you send me a postcard about the place you’re at and save me something about your place, which I would ignore.
Katrina Donaghy: Good evening or good morning to oil. This is my name is Katrina and I’m sitting in Brisbane in Queensland, in Australia. So we have the great barrier reef in Brisbane, but also importantly, we really embrace our traditional names of our cities.
So for Brisbane in the juggler language and the tubal language is Mia. So I like to pay my respects to the traditional owners, to which the land I’m coming from, where I’m speaking from today. And also any first nation listeners that you have listening to your podcast, I’d like to pay my respects to past present and emerging leaders.
So Brisbane is a really interesting place. It’s a, it’s a small city in the bottom of Queensland or just above the new south Wales border famously held the expo 88 way back then, but it’s a beautiful city. Subtropical and a gateway to extraordinary beaches. And also we have Fraser island just around north, not too far away, which is the largest sand island on the planet.
And it has beautiful, fresh water lakes and things like that. So if you ever come to Australia, Fraser island, you’ll see dingoes, you’ll learn a lot about the history of the island, but beautiful places.
Antoine Walter: That’s a thorough postcard. So thanks a lot for this element of stumbling upon. Actually, I just steal that from you and you didn’t tumble the bond.
You struck upon blockchain, and that is going to be our deep dive in a minutes. But right before we go into the deep dive, you have been working 20 years in the public and non-for-profit sectors. What’s. Between that portion of your life and this element of blockchain?
Katrina Donaghy: Yes, I, for my parents, I actually spent many years in government.
I was fortunate enough to work in all levels of government in Australia, how this all came together was that in my early thirties, I worked in disaster management. So I was working with a lot of local governments in trying to get them to understand their natural disaster. And one of the things I found quite interesting was even though we were spending millions of dollars every year in giving funding to local governments to sort of map out their plans and their risks and all that sort of stuff, all of this really key information was never able to be shared with anybody else across departments or industries verticals or up and down government.
And it’s because. When you do these processes, it’s really about auditing, making sure the funding was used for the right way, but nobody really understands how to take the data out and make connections with it or how to share it across other entities for them to take that information and adjustment to their own systems, to get a better understanding of the full situation.
And I see this over and over again, but I guess the turning point for me was my. Paid job. And I would say paid job because obviously I’m at a start up. That’s been going for a little while now, but I was working in the non-for-profit sector. And you know, when we donate to charities, we really want to know where’s the money going through?
Where’s it going? What’s the traceability. Can I see it? And that was the thing that really struck me again, was that I was working in a really important charity doing great work, but I couldn’t access. Provide any mechanisms of transparency on how donations were being utilized or any of those outcomes of that data.
And so, you know, people who support the charities don’t really have a window view into how charity dollars are used and just a couple of other stories, but it led me to quit. As you do, you sort of decide that you want to quit your job. And I was involved with another startup and we were looking at a certain problem, but at the same time, this was 2015.
This is around August, September, 2015. And I don’t know, some of your listeners might know the name that I’m just about to say. Because I’m an Aussie, but we had a guy called Craig Wright who was getting chased by the Australian taxation office. Now, Craig right now, today has come out and said, he’s the total net promoter, but that’s for another podcast.
But I was looking at all of this and I kept on wondering why this thing called Bitcoin and things like that. And at that time I had little children and I was in the library, their kids, they’re a local library and I found a book about Bitcoin and I’m always one that opens myself up for serendipitous moments.
I think. Hearing about it cycle. And when you’re on the internet and all of a sudden you, what you’re thinking starts to appear in your feeds. So I picked up the book and I took it home and I read it and it made sense, took my long time to get to understand what I was writing because you know, we’re challenging the monetary.
Global monetary systems in this book. And, um, it wasn’t until there was a chapter around charities and donations and how Bitcoin would help with that transparency that it all came crashing down. I said to myself, wow, this is something that we’ve never had that potentially could be a tool to solve that problem.
So I guess that was the first thing. That moment read something up in my mind up, made the connection and then. Wanted to find everything I could about it. So the startup I was with at that time, we basically did this massive mind mapping experience and sort of mapped out the global ecosystem, which was very small back then.
Yes, it was 2015.
Antoine Walter: So 2015, you get to know Bitcoin at that time, there’s not much more around, I think Ethereum was created along with the, yeah.
Katrina Donaghy: Yeah. Syrian was just coming out in 2014, but it wasn’t until 2015 that the white papers. And we started to see all the tiles getting, put it on there. Um, website to sort of see what projects were coming up.
A lot of them were in stealth mode. We now know why, because they were consensus as projects, but that led me to some other things like obviously Twitter is a really great source to find people who are talking about the technology. And I found one particular person who really stood out, which was Leanne camp.
And Leanne has a very similar, well, she comes from New Zealand like I do, but she’s also an Aussie. New Zealand. Ozzie lived in my area and she moved over to London in 2015 to start her Evelyn accompany because she knew that Providence was going to be a really big thing, particularly for precious things like diamonds.
And I started following her on Twitter and that led me learning more about. What she was doing and me asking a lot more questions. And I found things that people like FinAid, Guppta, I’m a per Revera to Philippi who was the most incredible thought leader at their time Primavera. And I, it makes me a little bit upset because she’s actually one of the founding thought leaders bringing the blockchain analysis to a socio-economic or sociology or an economics perspective.
She’s an academic she’s gone back into academia. The last piece of the puzzle was April, 2016. The Queensland government did the very first innovation summit and Leanne turned up in person. So I’m sitting in this, I’m sitting in the audience, so excited, listening to everything she had to say. She was the only person on the stage talking about blockchain technology, all the other panelists.
Talk, you know, they’ll ask questions and they dismissed it and went near now, but she was the only one person standing up there really proud and really excited and very succinct about this. She came off stage. And I went up to her all excited, like a fangirl and jumped out and said, hello. And we had a bit of a chat and I sort of had a whinge.
I throw a Brisbane doing nothing. And she just said to me, Katrina, do you just need to do something? You know, you don’t need to wait for permission. If you have something that you want to do with this tech, don’t wait, go. And that’s when I joined the Bitcoin Brisbane meetup, and that is another. But that was those moments.
And I think it’s when you pay attention and that’s the thing, you can either listen to it and say, nah, not gonna listen to it. Or you actually really open yourself up. And when you do open yourself up to these sort of things, the connections start to happen and things start to become much more. You start to make sense.
Antoine Walter: If I fast forward to 2022 today, when you discuss blockchain and Bitcoin, and you discuss that with the men on the road, it’s about speculation. And sometimes it’s up, sometimes it’s down, but it’s really like a financial goods and almost a financial tie where you can just be playing around there’s much.
In the world of blockchain, cryptocurrencies, but also NFTs and everything we hear around. And you are addressing a specific portion of that. My question here is if you’re promoting the use of blockchain for something, let’s say broader than this, just financial tools or toys, what is the perception of the people you’re talking with this?
Layman’s like, like I might be, how do they react to.
Katrina Donaghy: Well, this is always a good question. Cause we’re seen over the years, you know, when everything was really exciting and then it went into fear and certainly down, and then we had the ICO and then we had the winter and we had the ball run, all that sort of stuff.
And obviously we have the first out, back in 2016, which caused, you know, another big, big change into the industry because ethereum had to fork. Because of my background, having worked in government and working with multiple people and things. I’ve learned that you don’t lean in with the tech. You don’t talk about the technology because it really, it can fossils people and then they lose sight of what you’re actually saying.
They sort of go off and their brains get all confused. And so they lose sight of hearing you. So we’ve always been a problem led approach, like, you know, what is the problem that you need to solve? And let’s have a look and see how you’re using certain other ways of solving that problem. Looking at well, perhaps that could be an alternative.
And what is the goal of solving the problem? What is the things that you want to achieve around, you know, prominent, we always hear trust transparency, data, which is the same thing over and over again. And that’s when you slowly bring in the concepts of, well, okay. One was, if you could solve it this way, When they get used to the conversation, then you can start to say, okay, well this is the tech.
And then they go, ah, right. So they’re less inclined to react to you because we’d know this, we’ve seen it. I’ve been in hundreds of conversations where the first people you see as they roll their eyes. Oh blockchain and they take a heavy sign and they go, that’s that crypto thing we’re not interested because you know, it’s that dark web.
And what I’ve learnt now is that’s a typical reaction to someone who has not decided to go. And self-educate because there’s so much free stuff on the internet to go and learn about this stuff. You can go and listen to podcasts. You can go watch some YouTube. So. As all things that are new, you know, I was around when the first internet was born, email mobile phones, you know, go on and on and on.
There will be a camp of people that will say, oh, we can’t touch that because that’s brand new and there’ll be a camp of people that are curious. And as we’ve learned through to history, it’s the ones that are curious. That will actually, once that will actually drive it forward. And then slowly the ones that said, no, we’ll go, Hmm.
Perhaps I was wrong. I’m now ready to listen. I’m ready to play. So you learn, you learn and you learn a lot, so you’d let them have their rent and you do a lot of nodding. Keep the face smiling. And then you start to talk about different things. But yeah, it’s the challenge in the past, when it was early days, everyone led with a code.
So there was so many workshops, you know, so many training sessions that popped up where people were asked to pay a lot of money and then you have the code of standing at the front of the room. And all they want us to do is go under the hood. And if you’re talking to people that deal with problems and strategy, They’re not going to understand, you know, through port and hash rates and shout if I have six and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
They just want to know, will it solve my problem? Tell me why is this?
Antoine Walter: I’d like to dive into the actual application of your technology today, which is a bit of a leapfrog towards the place in history. We are right now. You mentioned podcasts to get informed. Let me just shout out to a podcast, which was very useful to me to prepare for that discussion.
It’s a podcast from Wondery in the US, it’s called business wars. So that’s the name of the podcast. And they did a series, which they called crypto wars. And when you listen to that, it might be like they are battling each other, but really they made the history of cryptocurrencies of blockchain and, um, really for a layman like me, it helps you to just dig into it.
By the way you mentioned some terms, which we might have to explain a bit, like when you’re saying ICO, what is
Katrina Donaghy: it? Initial coin offering the initial coin offering, which made people very rich, made people very poor, and a lot of startups don’t exist.
Antoine Walter: So it’s like going into the market, like for what? For companies, you usually do this IPO initial public offering, but the equivalent for currency is
Katrina Donaghy: cryptocurrency.
Yeah. It was the upside. What the ICS did bring that wasn’t IPO’s don’t do as well. They actually gave anybody access. To investing and, you know, that’s the whole point is to ensure that anybody, I mean, obviously when the us was still making its mind up, because obviously China made ICO’s illegal. And I remember being in San Francisco and being told, I wasn’t allowed to speak about ICS risks or pull out a white paper.
So I would have got arrested. So it depends on each jurisdiction on how they’re actually looking at it from a legal perspective. But I ICO’s when they first started, like, because Ethereum, you know, when consensus founded a CRM, you know, Joe Lubin and Vitalic founded consensus, you know, CRM was an ICO. And I will tell you all listeners that I think they were 10 cents.
10 cents to buy an ease back almost days. So, you know, we have seen very sick and, you know, there is an ICO, so we still see them in happening, but they’re not as silly as what they used to be. And I’ll say Shilene, as in chilling the coin competent.
Antoine Walter: There will be so many direction in which I could sidetrack you.
I could give you the example of Eric Larcheveque is the French guy who founded ledger, who was part of that ICO of the Ethereum, man, who used to own thousands of ethereums and who sold them when he thought he was making good money out of it. Yeah. I’ve kept them. He would be a billionaire, which is nevertheless, but it would be twice a billionaire.
Katrina Donaghy: Look, a lot of people have the shorter code or water. Cause you know, it won’t says, ah, could have shorter water and we’re like, yeah, well you just move on. You just get into it whenever it is and make sure that you’re, you know, so as it could.
Antoine Walter: That is, I would say the part of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, which we regularly hear about.
And that’s not the part I’m interested in right now in this discussion, because what you’re doing is very different. And I would say broader, and I wouldn’t have expected it to have a connection, but somehow it has a link with a discussion I had on that microphone with Scott Hamilton, about water trading in Australia.
He wrote a book sold on the river, a very fascinating book. I’m going to put the links to my conversation with Scott in the episode notes, in case you missed it. But to me, the link with our conversation today is that what Scott said at the time on that microphone is the problem is. The concept of water trading.
The problem is the way the markets are set up. If I’m just synthesizing what he was saying, and you are proposing an alternative and a solution somehow to exactly that and not just to reject. Because as we will be discussing a bit more in depth, you go into practical step and you will be rolling out your water ledger solution.
So let me start with the problem of it. What are you aiming to solve with water? There’s
Katrina Donaghy: a couple of things. Um, so yeah, Scott Hamilton, shout out to Scott. Scott is another thought leader in this country about water and markets, and then he’s an academic as well. So on a very high level, the problems that we’re solving, which is systemic across all different markets across the globe, whether it be gold or punishing markets, but it’s information assymetry and opacity.
Water markets in Australia, highly complex and very complicated. And the problem is, is that they’ve been built up over time with very complex regulation. And as a result, farmers, they use brokers or go to private exchanges to either put their water up for sale, or to actually look for water, to buy.
The problem is, is that there’s privileged information in the markets. So not everybody has the same information at the same time for them to have a rational decision. So as a result, there’s a lot of assumptions at the markets are manipulated. So what we have is a lack of confidence and a lack of trust in the markets.
And the problem with that is that. You know, you will have probably some listeners that kind of go, but water is a human right? You shouldn’t be putting a price on it. You shouldn’t be using markets, but on the upside is, is that if we have markets will actually understand its value and we’ll be able to account for the water.
So water markets are important mechanism to ensure that we’re able to not only manage water as a public good, but also ensure we understand its economic value and also in the future state around our cultural value as well. So. The most important pieces of information like in any market that you need for it to be rational is often missing things like price.
What’s the last try to price of that water in that particular water scheme. And also what is the authority, the property rights associated with those water, but also trade history and liquidity of the markets. We do have water markets that operate in a private sector sense like we have, and I’m not, not endorsing these brands where I’m just going to sort of let you know who they are.
So we do have water fine from Adelaide, sort of. One of our oldest sort of market places have been rapping at 20 years, but you know, is owned by Tom, Tom owns water find. So all the data that gets associated with the trading is in his ownership. We have Royal coat and what exchange and raw water exchanges, the, the tech and Bronco is what.
This is what exchange and they won’t labor. And there’s another one could hate two weeks. So, which is owned by expansive, which is a us company. So those are four major exchanges. And then you have mid tier exchanges or mid tier companies. And then you have the thousands of water brokers that are not required to have a license in this country.
So they’re not regulated the non-owner registry and often they also have water rights. So if they’re actually being a broker, they get inside information on how much water is to be valid. And then you have the multitude of water registries that are operated by the regulators. So we have five states in Australia that operate those registries.
They are not interrupted. And none of the proprietary water exchanges are interoperable. So you can put your water on multiple markets and you could sell it five times over. And nobody’s going to know until the regulator or the operator have to do the reconciliation of accounts. Accounts is an important word, which we’ll talk a little bit about later.
And then I can talk about the 350 water products. Cause water is not fungible. Water is not a financial product? It’s highly regulated. And it’s all these complexities and complexities that have happened over years that have now created a really problem in a watermark us in Australia, whereby we have a lot of antagonistic, lot of lack of trust and a lack of confidence.
And when water markets are not optimized, water is not optimized. So it’s not going to its highest value use. And we can’t measure its economic outcome. And as a result, water sits there and evaporates. So you really need to make sure that water markets are highly efficient. And effective to ensure that not every drop is wasted and we account for every drop.
And that’s the difference. That’s I guess that’s how we take the approach is that we don’t actually, you know, yes, we build with blockchain technology, but we don’t own the infrastructure to which we build our water markets on. It’s owned by the participant. So that’s a very different proposition to how the proprietary water markets work, where individuals will own the water markets they’ll own the data.
And then obviously with expensive bean American expensive gets to monetize that data in a way that goes off shore. So these are the things that are starting to become more compelling. And I guess when we picked up. On all of this back in 2016, we kind of suspected that this tech would be really useful.
But again, because it was so early, we’ve had to go through the whole ups and downs of the tech. You know, there was a time there in 2018 where nobody wanted to talk to us. Like nobody everyone’s like, you keep that blockchain, you know, we don’t want to talk about that tank. So, yeah. So I guess those are the challenges information.
Antoine Walter: There’s a lot to unpack in what you just said. I’ll just try to just point at the virus directions I’d like to explore with you. You, you mentioned how you see additional value in using the water better. And if I’m right, you’ve been putting a number on that value, which is $8.4 billion in agriculture exports.
So that is what’s. Somehow frozen or forgotten the system with the way it’s working today. We’re going to go a bit deeper into that one. You mentioned the brokers, I’ve myself being in contact with what extent? At some point, when I was trying to understand how that works, it’s a weird word from where you’re not really into it and it questions.
Your intention to get them out. So that’s also something that I’d like to discuss with you. And you mentioned how blockchain would be the solution for that and elect to understand how you roll out the blockchain. So let’s start with that first part. I saw you saying that giving me hints, that you don’t want to cut out the brokers.
So I’d like to discuss that with you, but let’s start with the blockchain elements. You made some pilots. How does that really. Look like in practical steps. How do you roll out blockchain to replace a men’s supplements? I don’t know that Martin.
Katrina Donaghy: Well, you sort of say that blockchain is now mainstream, but when you got back to 2016 and 2017, we really only had Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ethereum was still emerging.
The community was building the Ethereum virtual machine was still trying to get stable and stuff like that. So, and there was a lack of documentation, SDKs and all that sort of stuff. Obviously the world is very different now, but in the early days how we got started, and this is probably a really.
Important point, because the way we got started is not through an ICO where we kind of went, Ooh, blockchain, it, you need to go find a problem with, you know, we need, we’ve got blockchain now let’s go find a problem to solve it with. And that’s fine. I mean, cause obviously a lot of people did go with that approach to be very successful, but because.
A little bit more pragmatic. We had an opportunity to work with the Australian government in early 2017, just for three months because they put out some problem statements. And one of those problems, statements to be solved was how do we increase confidence in the Australian water markets? And, um, we were one of four companies that were selected and we were only six weeks old.
Our company was only six weeks old. We put the application in and they selected us. Crazy, but they did because we’re the only tech company that were came through the lens of perhaps it is the way the markets are designed. That could be the problem, not necessarily how water is managed. So anyway, we got selected and we did that project for three months and we produced a feasibility study.
I guess that’s one of the most important things is to really ensure that you understand the problem you’re solving. Do you have the right problem that you’re solving? What are your assumptions and hypothesis and how do you actually get some additional information to verify that that is the right problem to solve rather than thinking, you know, what the problem is?
So we did a feasibility study to really verify. And what we found was that the problem statement that the Australian government put out actually was not the right problem to solve because we were young and, you know, we challenged them and we gave them evidence and we said, look, ’cause they were saying that the problem with Warren Marcus was lack of information and yes, while we agree that there is an information problem, what we found was the trading was the problem.
The ability to trade was where the bottleneck was and there was a whole reasons for that. And once we got consent from the Australian government to alter our quest problem state, And verify our hypothesis and everything they said, okay, go ahead and continue doing the feasibility study and we’ll see where we get to the end.
But the other three participants stuck with the same problem. They didn’t challenge it just because. A bit different. So we put together a feasibility study and I want to make sure to everyone is that we did look at obviously twenties, which are the standards for tokenization. You know, we looked at tokenization, all that sort of stuff.
Yes. NFTs for your today, listeners. Yes. Then of tears and fungible tokens way back then it’s picked up
Antoine Walter: that you said that water was non fungible, which made me think water is an NFT, but really that is my layman brain. Yeah,
Katrina Donaghy: well, you need it to be fungible, but I’ll explain a little bit later about why it’s non fungible and fungible at the same time.
So what happened was that we submitted our report and we had the bare bones of what, what alleged was going to look. And I think that’s one of the things while we’re probably still around is that we didn’t actually go and say, right, we’re going to go build the tech and spend two years building it and then come out and go it, we really wanted to know, is this a problem that this technology has a place?
Will it make it better? And if so, how will it make better? What will it solve? And, and that’s basically, we went with the Austrian government, but this was 2017, June, 2017. And even though we were judged as the most innovative. Approach. They didn’t feel that the regulatory environment was ready for this conversation.
And this is I’m going to talk about that later because this is very, very key, very, very important. So they passed on us and I said, no, thanks, civic ledger. You’re really innovative and really excited for what this is, but we’re just trying to think that this tech has going to thrive in this particular problem.
For many years, it’s going to take many, many, many years, and we’re just not ready for it. So they handed it money to. Teams that stuck with the problem. So they handed a million dollars to, I won’t say they who they are, but they’ve got a million dollars to go do something that is an aggregation platform.
But what we did is. We put the tech down. We put Water Ledger down for a little while, because we were quite defeated. But anyway, but we learn a lot and we went off and did some work with IP Australia, and we started low. Yes. We started using NFTs for patents and that work got taken to Geneva. And then back in 2018, when.
When we had the crypto winter, and nobody wanted to talk about blockchain, we buckled down and did serious R and D and we really pulled water ledger apart. We really, really pulled it apart. And then once we had a little bit of an MVP, that’s when I went out and started talking to the people that own the problem, the irrigators.
And that’s when we started to get some traction, because when you get them looking at you going, this is what we want. It actually speaks much, much more louder than our voices.
Antoine Walter: That is something where I’m really curious. You, you mentioned you go to the irrigators and you discuss blockchain, R and D and how do they react?
Katrina Donaghy: Funny that isn’t it. Yeah. As I said, you lean in with a problem. And when you’ve really spent all of that time, articulating what the problem is and going down all that sort of stuff, and then understanding how this technology can bring surface data that they need in real time. And you can actually do that through contracts and stuff like that.
It actually speaks to them because they don’t care about the tech. They say, can this solve this problem, this problem, and this problem, and you go, yes, yes, yes. And they go, let’s take a look because they want to have control of their data. They want to be in control of their water markets.
Antoine Walter: How does it look like for them?
Katrina Donaghy: At the moment, cause it’s, it’s going through its redevelopment because obviously we’re doing all of the deployment this year and moving out of, out of test, notice my net. So it looks like if you went, if you went to a crypto exchange and you could see an order book, so you can see a dashboard, you can see the state of the markets and you can actually see the order book and the history, and you can see an audit log.
And that’s the thing that we did, which is quite unique to what we do because. We had to learn a long time ago when we did, when we did our pilot in 2020, I’ll put some funnels Queensland. We realized, you know, when you start out, you really want to be what we call, you know, a hundred percent blockchain and you can’t, you can’t, you still need to get down or out, so you can do analytics and things like that with it.
So we split the smart contracts into two. And one that was executing the rules to which you could have a compliant trade, but we also created a listening. So the contracts were listening when the data was getting updated. And what that was doing was it was creating an instant audit log of every execution of contract in the market.
And that was our light bulb moment because what it did, what we didn’t realize that we were doing. But what we were inadvertently doing was creating a real-time audit log that gave us a state of the market to give us a one source of truth. So in effect, we’re able to show through an audit log that was linked to the Ethereum blockchain.
When, uh, an account was set up or a water right, was issued or trade was put onto the market or trade was settled still by taking the consideration of privacy and security and all that sort of stuff. But that became very important because that doesn’t exist anymore. And it’s a public window. If
Antoine Walter: I get it right, there’s this element of blockchain.
You can want to one, just trade a portion of water on the blockchain, but there’s also that element of being the one broker to roll them. With heavy brackets because you now are building this common books of orders, which is now reconciliating all the platforms.
Katrina Donaghy: Yeah, that’s correct. So, because in Queensland we have 23 water supply schemes, which are 23 markets.
And you can imagine that the little nation states, because inside the borders of those, that water supply scheme, our rules and the very specific to that water supply scheme, because they have to take into consideration hydrology. I catchment and water supply and access, whether it’s in a damn storage, it’s got water channels, you know, irrigation channels.
So it’s very unique and that’s why we call water resource systems and non fungible because one water resource system can not trade with another water resource system because the rules don’t let it happen because of hydrology and distance and what is really, really heavy. And you need a lot of energy to move.
But when you do a trade, you agreeing on when you’re going to take that water out of the irrigation channel. So it has to be all aligned with hydrology and flow and it has to be put in order. Yes. So there’s a, there’s a water delivery, right? Yeah. There’s all of these different rights that you have to have.
So what a resource system has multiple uses. So in a water resource system, particularly in regional parts of Australia, you’ll have the utility. You know, the one that’s doing the town water supply will have the same access to the same water resource system, along with agriculture, along with industry, along with the environment.
And they’re all very, very different cause they have different rules for rights, responsibilities, different licensing, different permits. But with agriculture, agriculture is mostly about semiotics. 70 to 80% of water and water storage is used for agriculture. And then they’re sort of split into zones and then you have high priority water.
You have low priority water, you have medium priority water, you have carry over water. And all of these are unique characteristics. And so because of the beauty of technology like blockchain and allows us to codify the rules, we can actually tokenize an entire water resource system, which. The supply and create through water wallets.
That demand is mirrored in those water wallets around people’s allocations, but every water supply scheme globally needs to have a sustainable yield. So you think California. California doesn’t really have a sustainable yield anymore because I’ve got more water, right. Holders with an allocation that exceeds the sustainable water levels in the catchments to which those agriculture farmers are extracting.
So nobody wants to go to the regulator and say, Hey, I need to do a tray. Cause they’ll look at their water. Right. Go. We’re just going to change that because we don’t just don’t have enough water anymore. So we’re able to use accountant. Accounting you’ll fashion accounting, but we use triple entry bookkeeping rather than double entry.
Cause triple is the blockchain. So we can actually create a relationship between an entire water supply system and tokenize every megalitre and assure that whoever has allocations in their wallets cannot exceed the sustainable yield of that water supply. And that is a very different step change on how one of markets operated today.
Antoine Walter: Which leads me to two questions. The first is you mentioned hydrology. Is it something which somehow comes into play in your system?
Katrina Donaghy: Good question. See, this is the important question. So if you’ve got any engineers. Obviously your background, but when you have conversation with your engineers in water, who building water infrastructure, can you ask them to create a digital twin?
That would be amazing. We don’t have senses. We don’t have IOT. And what the water market needs is to read data from meters and sensors, to get an understanding of flow. Because if we understand flow, we can actually codify and say, look, you know, if this then water is moving this flow with this volume. You can deliver that water.
So yes, the water, the trade can occur. If it’s low flow or dry, then the water can’t get there fast enough. So then there’s a challenge with the trade actually been approved by the water operator. So if we had interoperability with the water delivery infrastructure, yes, that would be amazing. But that again, Is still emerging in the water industry because they take their time with technology.
They want to take their time with digital transformation.
It makes me crazy. Cause it’s, it’s so sensical, you know, you need to have, we do a digital twin of a warm market, but a water market interoperates with delivery infrastructure. And we know that governments all around the world spend billions of dollars on water, infrastructure, storage, channels, dams, and then they go to the, our culture.
Well, um, oh, sorry. I forgot the border market. Well, we better go get that sorted out and it’s done in the wrong way.
Antoine Walter: I would say your limit to that extent is that. It’s not all the countries in the world, which have water markets, which limits a bit, the water industry outputs of developing that.
Katrina Donaghy: Well, good again, it’s very important because this is again, we see voluntary markets like have voluntary carbon markets and voluntary nature markets.
So we do have voluntary markets where communities do agree because you know, agriculture farmers will get together and they agree on how they’re going to share their water. But you are right. There are countries where formalized water markets don’t exist because the whole idea of putting a price on water is highly political.
When you start getting talking about water, what happens? It gets highly politicized. So everyone gets a nurturer. I can’t make that decision. We can’t do that because I’ll lose my seat. But what we see. Like we built more markets from the bottom up and our ultimate goal through the world that we work in is to create community exchanges.
So the water wallet, it gives you the ability to assert that you have a riot or a search or allocation. And therefore we can all agree that you have a right to be in the market. And this is how much will you have. And then you can actually set up your own committee exchanges and you still sitting within the regulatory world, but you don’t have to ask permission from government to set yourself.
And then, you know, because the data is transparent and we can actually, there’s an ability to share data back to the regulator and say, Hey, take the data and show. We can show you that we’re being compliant to the regular.
Antoine Walter: That element is incredibly strong. I mean, I can give you the example of the conference.
I’ve given a couple of weeks ago, which was to me the first occurrence to talk about you to a greater public. And the reaction I got after the conference, many let’s say order generation people came to me and said, you are the useful idiots of capitalism and of the great capital, because water is like air.
When you start putting a price on it and. Talk two hours to explain what it’s nonsense, but there’s things you can argue and things which are so entrenched in people’s conviction that it’s hard to debate.
Katrina Donaghy: Yeah. And you sort of ask the questions, who are you actually using water to grow food, to create an economic GDP for your nation? And if you’re not, you need to step out of the conversation because you’re not the one with the problem. The problem is for farmers and agriculture and industry who actually need water.
And we know all verticals across the planet require water to grow, you know, fashion, food mining industry, or require a water input.
They need to get access to water. So it has to be incorporated into how they understand their business models or how they operate. And, and water must be key to that, but they need to understand its value and its price.
Antoine Walter: There’s a tropisms people look at what they drink and what they drink is one percent of the 10% share, which goes to municipalities.
So it’s nothing compared to what the agriculture is using,
Katrina Donaghy: but why do we pay Coca Cola? I’m going to go buy a bottle of water and it’s going to cost me $4. And I’m cool with that, but don’t ask a farmer to pay for water because it’s unethical. It’s, it’s, you know, it’s a human, right. It’s like, you know, what’s the balance here.
And that’s the thing is that I think sometimes people who do have an opinion, they’re entitled to their opinion, but please go speak. To the people who actually have the problem, because they know that water is the most precious resource on the planet for them to do what they do and supplies, food, and keep us well and keep us close.
So don’t patronize them, just go and really understand how water does need to have a price and to be stained as a public good and a cultural value, but also understand its economic good because without water, no industry on this planet would able to make a.
Antoine Walter: Which is a very elegant bridge to close the soundtrack.
I open them. Sorry about that. So you’ve been talking with those people because you’ve been talking with the irrigators. So that was one part of my question. The second part of my question in what you said is that if you’re this mega market, which brings all the transactions under one. Hold to brokers reacts to that.
Katrina Donaghy: look, you know, that’s really fascinating. I had, um, cause a couple of a couple of years ago, it’s about 18 months ago, the Australian government did an inquiry into the Murray-Darling basin. It’s called the atrial pissy, which is our watchdog in Australia. And they spent quite a lot of money and time going around the modelling base and just trying to understand what the problem was.
And they opened the door for submissions and we made a submission and um, you know, I was very transparent. Um, cause we were just about to start. Our pilot up and rape it’s and Bulla. So I thought, you know, we’re, our values is about open and being transparent. So I asked submission was very detailed. It really talked about what we were doing and Maria Timbol, how it was going to work with the problems we’re solving, how the tech, we were actually going to be applying it.
And, you know, I thought nobody’s probably gonna rate it because you know, who’s going to listen to a tech company, not going to listen to us. We did have some people read it. And when Queensland finally opened up on the 13th of December, a broker did contact me and he was heading up to Brisbane. He said, you know, is it okay if we have a catch up?
And I said, yeah. And he actually said to me, I’ve been waiting for two years to meet you. I have your submission on my screen. And I read it because I I’m afraid of it. I’m scared what you’re doing, because I’m a broker, but on the other side, I understand it’s the right way we have to head. So how do we get that balance?
And we had a good conversation and as a system broke, what brokers do the best is that they build relationships. They’re in the community. You know, like drop the kids at the school where, you know, they’re selling water to the people that are the other parents. So they’re important connector in a community, but their challenge is the counterparty risk because when water is traded, the water, the audit goes in and the broker is the middle guy that holds the money whilst the waiting for the trade to be approved by the operator.
So you’re holding the money. I’m waiting. So there’s a lot of risk with that, but the thing is, is that. That trade is taking so long and that that money is not with the buyer is sitting with the middle end guy. So this guy can’t do anything. This person can’t leverage it. Can’t borrow it out or do anything with it.
It’s stuck in the middle and that’s a lot of counterparty risk. And there’s a lot of paperwork that the brokers have to go through to demonstrate compliance. So what we do is we remove that compliance piece for them because becomes automated so they can focus on what their value is, which is building relationships, building confidence, education, and really being able to do their job better because all of that risk is taken out of their remit.
So we don’t want to replace them. They are highly valued. That very important role to play, but how do we take that risk with all of that paperwork and all that compliance that they have to do?
Antoine Walter: So that doesn’t mean that they will become the operators of the blockchain.
Katrina Donaghy: We’d love them to be part of the platform and to create a special place for them where they can possibly set up their own account and dashboard.
So they will have a mini market, so to speak whereby they’re actually facilitating the trades and things like that, but they’re able to see their on dashboard. They’re able to see the liabilities. Current liabilities are outstanding when the trays have been approved, but they don’t actually have to hold the money anymore.
And that’s the problem. And, you know, water and money don’t move at the same time. And you want water and money to move at the same time,
Antoine Walter: you mentioned how some trades could be done five times with the same water allocation, and then somehow it’s reconciliate it, which means that four guys are holding the money and can do anything with it because the trade cannot happen because the water doesn’t actually.
Katrina Donaghy: It doesn’t exist and it’s not until it gets reconciled and it’s, and it’s hard work because the accounting systems are complicated. They don’t interoperate with the regulator and they don’t operate with the market. So, as I mentioned, it’s, you know, it’s talking about, you know, tokenizing the whole water resource system and ensuring that all know sustainable yield tokens in the wallets.
So one of the challenges too, is that often the accounting systems that the operators. Don hall price that I collect the data around how much the water was soulful. And that’s the problem, because if you’re missing that core piece, it’s very difficult for Gators to know how much they should be selling their water for.
So what we see is a lot of zero value trades going through the system. So that distorts the. Volumetric price because the trades prices aren’t being correctly recorded. So again, we have a distortion of what actually is the true price of water in some locations. So there’s a whole other area around that that we’re solving around water accounting, and we’re leaning into the, you know, obviously the global reporting initiative and the CDP a core standards.
For water accounting. And then we have a water accounting framework that brings it into how we actually apply that into the sort of permissioning engine that we do around compliance and things like that. Katrina,
Antoine Walter: to be very transparent with you. We’re not even halfway through the number of topics I’d like to cover with you in that deep dive, but I have to be cautious of your time.
So. I can list you what electric further discuss with you? The tokenization you’ve been referring several times elect like really go into the depth of it, understanding the ins and outs of this non fungible or fungible element of water. Seeing the perspective about what you intend to bring for the overall agricultural market in Australia, the links.
Teased us between the future IOT and digital twin that may happen on the water system and what you’re trying to digitalize in terms of market. And that is just, just scratching the surface. There’s so much more like to discuss with you. Can I propose you a deal at that stage, which is that’s closed this first part, that’s called it a first part and let’s make a sequel very, very, very, very soon.
Does that sound about right for
Katrina Donaghy: you? That would be amazing.
Antoine Walter: Then a proposed ads with clues for today, and we jump to our agendas.
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Water Blockchain, Water Ledger: Part 2
Antoine Walter: So, hi, Katrina. Welcome back.
Katrina Donaghy: Thank you for having me back.
Antoine Walter: So that is a direct sequel to the rest of the discussion we had the first time. And let me just recap what we’ve discussed together so that we have a good common base, and then we can go to the next part of it. So we’ve discussed how your experience with governments and NGOs led you to realize that there was a problem with the traceability of funding.
How in 2015, you stumbled on. A book about Bitcoin. That’s me saying that you stumbled upon, I guess you maybe choose that book, which you’ve called serendipity. You’ve explained how your encounter with Leon Kemp was a decisive moment and how the Queensland government’s innovation summit in 2016 was the last piece of the puzzle that led to civic ledger, the company that you co-founded and where you serve as a CEO today.
You’ve explained how people roll their eyes. When you mentioned blockchain and how, when you started developing civic ledger, you avoided speaking about the technology to rather focus on the challenge to solve. And that challenge now, in my words would be, if I tried to narrow it down to two barometers information, assymetry and opacity, which ultimately leads to a lack of trust.
So we’ve discussed how water markets. So from all these issues while pouring an additional layer of complexity on top of it, as water is a public goods with a misunderstood economic value. You’ve told us about the complexity of this water markets today, especially in Australia, how fragmented they are, how slow they are and how many actors play across them.
And some of these actors being quite far abroad and you’ve shown her water, sits there and evaporates to really directly coach you on that one. As a result of this complexity now to lead you into what I’d like to discuss with you and start with today. At civic ledger, you’ve developed water ledger and what a ledger could at the same time, be a vehicle for decentralized trading and a global depository to record all your transactions, including the price, which you’ve underlined last time is often not recorded today.
And if I got it right, that came out during the crypto winter in 2018, when you intensively invested in R and D and that paid off because you’ve explained us how you had a pilot in far north Queensland in 2020. And if that recap is about right, the point where I’d like to start our conversation today is how you’re expecting to know roll-outs water ledger on a bigger scale, how that works and what that’s enabled.
Katrina Donaghy: Excellent God, that sounded so intense. It was like really all of that. It is about what do we do with this now? Cause obviously exploring around, going from proof of concepts to project, to pilots, and then proving out the technology through projects. At some point you’ve got to deploy this into main net and really get people using it.
So there’s still a lot of things that are play to actually bring the tech like this into a marketplace, which is really around the concepts of governance and regulation. Cause, um, unfortunately we I’m in Australia and obviously our state governments like to look at things very differently. They don’t have a consensus on a lot of things around meanings and words and legislation and things like that.
How was hiking the rollout of what we’re doing up in funnel with Queensland and moving across Northern Australia is really taking a place-based approach because water is extraordinary and local, and we have to respect that water is very, very local. So place based economics, all through the lens of place-based social economics allows us to understand how water is understood within a local environment.
Antoine Walter: So you move little bit by little bit. It’s not like a rollout where you take the full region and you go for that. Well,
Katrina Donaghy: we do, we will looking at, from a full rollout in terms of the digital infrastructure. I mean, the digital infrastructure is not the challenge. It’s human beings that are the challenge because.
The regulation and the way the institutions that they built up over time, they don’t need to operate around data information. And one thing that you may be doing in Queensland might not be the right and Northern territory or Western Australia, and also water markets are still emerging in Northern Australia because most of the water markets are down in the south part of Australia, the Murray-Darling basin.
So you need to get that really precise alignment between investments in water infrastructure. And the development of the water market, where markets can’t be developed before the delivery infrastructure has been built. And as we all know, investing in water storage and delivery infrastructure for agriculture mining, urban is extraordinarily expensive.
Antoine Walter: So that means that’s your software roll-outs is really dependent on the hardware infrastructure. We’ve discussed last time about this potential interconnection between the hardware in the future with IOT, which could lead to a digital twin of that infrastructure as well, to that expense, that could be a chance because that means infrastructure doesn’t exist.
You can start from the beginning with this
Katrina Donaghy: that’s the whole goal is to, because we’ve got such a great collaborative team with the CSA for developing Northern Australia and frontal Queensland girl is inclusive growth. And the partners that we’re building through the stakeholder engagement is that they actually get this.
For us to actually have efficient water markets. We have to inter operate the market with the delivery infrastructure. And often you build dams and infrastructure without thinking about the market, which we’ve seen globally. So we have this once in a generation opportunity as we design the roadmap of how water markets to emerge across Northern Australia, that we’re thinking about the markets at the same time, as we’re thinking about the delivery infrastructure.
Because if we add those. Great tech around and sensors and it, and then through smart contracts where we look at the operations of the water delivery infrastructure, we can actually reduce its cost because we make all of the systems quite more efficient, but on the other side of things, and this is probably quite global is that water infrastructure is now considered as a critical asset.
Because we’ve seen cyber security attacks on what our assets all across the world. So you have to have that heightened layer of cybersecurity across everything we do as.
Antoine Walter: So that means that when there’s a story, like the story in Texas last year of someone trying to hack a drinking water treatment plants at the end of the day, despite blockchain being probably the most secure thing, there is you have a bit that taint of yeah.
But maybe even more secure than that would be to go offline and to do everything with just hardware, because everybody knows that nobody’s ever touching a valve physically.
Katrina Donaghy: Yeah. So it’s, so it, we’re living in a very complicated world. We all understand that blockchain technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum and it doesn’t exist in a world by itself.
We have to interplay and inter operate with multiple complex systems. So I guess that’s why doing this work in front of Queensland and having afatinib as the test bed, because it’s such a great space. It’s gone horticulture. It’s got a good depth of market. It’s got great sound growers in there. Sort of just trying to understand what is the governance systems that we need to be thinking about.
If we roll out this infrastructure or this digital layer, and it’s just not for water markets. I mean, yes, we have water markets as the. Rollout, but we’re able to, through the work we’re doing with the critical minerals project with Everledger in Australia, as about creating an ethical passport on ESG related to how critical minerals rare is the mind out of, you know, taken out of the ground, how ESG is associated with the site or the operations that the mind, and then the ESG that’s associated with a commodity that then goes into the fourth economy, which.
Battery’s a vehicles and that sort of stuff in Australia with testing out how blockchain technology can give us provenance. And we’re looking at water accounting. So we’re looking at the water counting framework, which is informed by the GRI standard in the city piece standard, the global reporting initiative.
So the water market is just one of the first layers we do, but we know that. That there are agricultural supply chains in Northern Australia using blockchain technology. So how do we interoperates with those supply chains? How do we pass data from the water markets across into those supply chains? So the customer can know how much water was used in the growing of that crop and things like that.
So we’re only at the very start of where the technology is going to go, but it is really hard work, you know? Why don’t you just build a bridge between the blockchain technology? Why don’t you just use polygon? And it’s like, it’s fine. If you’re moving cryptocurrency between different protocols, because you can rap, you can do some layer twos and things like that.
But when you’re working with data that needs to have integrity. So the integrity cannot be lost as the blockchains move. You know, the data moves from one protocol to another. This is really hard stuff. And we’re doing a lot of that in Australia at the moment and breaking grounds and it’s hard work, but I see that our work in Northern Australia is just to start.
We would like to see other blockchain companies coming in and interoperating with our technology.
Antoine Walter: But aren’t you somehow playing against the startup book, because it’s about, you know, focusing on something and nailing it down and really going to the bottom of the rabbit hole. And now you’re interconnected to the infrastructure, which means you have a hardware element, which is always tricky as we know.
Katrina Donaghy: Yeah. But it’s not a case of us actually having to solve that problem because we know companies that build dams and, you know, storage infrastructure and things like that. It’s just about bringing that digital first mindset to them. In the first instance and saying, if you do take a digital first mindset, not only are you able to understand security of data and things like that, but we can actually make these things more efficient and it actually helps us better manage water resources because we’ve all got this digital ink connectivity.
And I think the other thing too is when you work. This technology, your first position is open source. You don’t build proprietary software systems that are rent-seeking you’re building interoperable, open source systems where you want other startups to build with you and inter-operate with you because the only way you’re going to.
Grow as a company and get network effect is by opening up your platform with STKs and API APIs and enabling and incentivizing other startups to solve certain problems within your ecosystem because you can’t solve everything.
Antoine Walter: Does that mean that you have already partnerships ongoing with all the startups or other players, which are integrating ecosystem and leveraging your platform?
Katrina Donaghy: Well, not yet, but we’re working with Everledger on the critical minerals project, which is the very first time. And I said, you know, you have my, you know, my backstory with Leanne. So for me to be six years later, and my company and her company are working on the biggest blockchain pilot that this country has ever seen is really quite an interesting position for me to say, Here I am.
Our company’s working with one of the biggest blockchain companies on the planet because of the Ana is extraordinarily successful and we’re actually coming together because we know they are very, very good at solving their problems around Providence and supply chains and stuff like that. And they know that we’re really good at water data and water markets.
So we reached out to each other and said, cause we knew that this grant was going to come out at some point, but we didn’t know the context. So. Is this collaboration is quite important because we want to show the rest of the world to other blockchain companies that you don’t need to solve all the problems within your ecosystem.
If you frame what you do around interoperability and open source, doesn’t matter because they use Hyperledger fabric. So they’ve always used the private permission blockchain, whereas we’ve always been on the side of the public blockchains. You can solve problems.
Antoine Walter: And how do you determine your key performance indicators?
How to define the base level of efficiency of everything you’re trying to solve today? Because most of the time that data simply doesn’t exist.
Katrina Donaghy: What’d you have to do is get back to, you know, again, the concepts of human centered design and go back to the people that had the problems. So Everledger did an enormous amount of discovery work.
As we got the project started off and they went to the miners and said, well, what’s your biggest pain points. And then the regulators and said, what’s your biggest pain points. But for the critical minerals industry in Australia, they really want to tell their story. They want to be able to show their story, that they are being good stewards.
Undertaken good stewardship of our planet and the way that they extract do extractive, taken various out of the planet, but they really are committed to wanting to be able to show that story and to be held accountable to that story. So there’s a desire to share that story of, so we go, well, how do we actually enable that to do you know, how do we actually get that data out of your systems into this thing called an ethical passport so everybody can see your story.
Antoine Walter: I don’t know how that works beyond blockchain, because I don’t know if you followed that story of the natural asset companies, which are now lounged by the New York stock exchange. I think it’s a partnership with the Rockefeller foundation, but they are leveraging this traditional tool. The stock exchange to see nature has a value and we can invest in nature.
And then on the long run, you won’t get dividends from nature, but nature has services. And if those services increase, then you could be buying and selling those services to all the stakeholders. And to me, that sounds like something that blockchain would be doing probably better because there would be a better traceability, a bit of.
Katrina Donaghy: the New York stock exchange is owned by shareholders. When you really think about blockchain does facilitate an exchange, why do we have crypto exchanges? So in effect, what a ledger will become ultimately community exchanges, where you actually have the ability for order books to be automated and things like that.
But ultimately, you know, you move from a marketplace to an exchange. I buy the same thing. I don’t know. Markets are a very local and exchange gives you an overall perspective of how the, all those little markets are working. I always find it fascinating when we can’t get the regular exchanges, you know, regular companies on the exchanges at the moment to be able to be accountable for the way that they do ESG.
And now. Stand up all these nature markets where all the data’s extraordinary flawed right now, you know, when we can’t even agree on how to value our assets and all of a sudden we want to put it on any stock exchange and you sort of go, you know, there has to be a making money out of. I mean, as we say, it’s always a little bit frustrating because all of a sudden ESG became a really big thing last year.
Now everybody wants to have their fair share, but I just feel that it’s not necessarily a centralized exchanges. So we are going to solve this problem, that decentralized exchanges that are extraordinary, locally driven, where stewardship is actually at the heart of every.
Antoine Walter: If you had one key argument to give to someone which is an ESG investor, which is looking with love eyes at the fact that no, they are natural asset companies and you need to convince that person that decentralized and blockchain is the way instead of what he does on his daily basis.
And which is his daily breads of those stock exchanges, which may be needs a bit better. What would you tell to that? I
Katrina Donaghy: think it’s about verifying the data. So how do you verify the assertions that have been said around these data points? You know, how are you finding an independent system of record that’s free of interests?
How are you actually verifying their data? How are you confident that that data hasn’t been changed? It hasn’t been embellished that it’s not coming from a proprietary database because the person that owns that database is actually making a significant money out of it. And you’ve also got to sort of understand that nature is a long game.
You know, it’s a very long game. We’ve got to do an enormous amount of work on this planet to get it back to one. So we’re going a bit back the way it was, but it’s a really long game. It’s not a short game. And. I just think it’s probably a bit too early to throw this stuff on central exchanges. Some of your listeners might disagree with me, but I just sort of feel that we can’t even get consensus of what actually ESG is that learn, start putting it on to exchanges and asking people to invest in these shares when we can’t even get companies to disclose their ESG in a transparent way, except for an annual report.
And you can’t verify it anymore.
Antoine Walter: I don’t know how global it is. I have a French tropism, so pardon me if maybe there are many other companies doing that in the world, but in France some month ago, there was an ICO from a company called the Cardashift and they raised 10 million euros in this ICO with the intention to leverage.
Cryptocurrency in that case and the blockchain technology to invest in only projects that could reshape our world and help solve climate change, help solve that carbon transition we have to undergo. And that is. Really from my layman mogul perspective. Again, another way to leverage blockchain, is it something you’ve been looking into this element of having collective intelligence and decentralize management ways to look at the right approaches to solve a big problem?
Katrina Donaghy: Yeah. Look, ironically enough, we just joined the task force and it’s just, we actually have our first kickoff on Monday. Well Tuesday morning, my time, because I’m here in Australia, but the task force has been set up to look at natural markets and things like that. And we’re having some interesting discussions at the moment because there’s no silver bullet to solve this problem.
There’s not one, there’s nobody. That’s going to be able to stand up right now and say, I know how to solve the problem of nature markets globally. There’s just no. And I think we have to be realistic at this, and we’ve got to be extraordinary, pragmatic, and it’s not that just throwing money at startups and say, here you go solve the problem.
You go solve the problem. Or we’re just going to have that data silos situation all over again. I think we just have to get some consensus of where we actually need to start from. And it’s really about going to those businesses, working collectively with businesses like we’re doing with critical minerals in Australia and enabling them to start the, you know, don’t stop them from doing what they’re doing in terms of their business models.
Because for us to start to go using digital assets and blockchain and all that sort of stuff to solve their problem, they’re just going to look at you and go, I’m sorry, but I’ve just invested. Million dollars to do a discovery project. And now you’re telling me that you want me to move over to this?
It’s not, we’ve got to be realistic here, and we’ve got to be absolutely realistic about what is the problem we need to solve. How are we going to solve it? But it’s really about having some design principles. And there’s those design principles, regardless of how, who, who solves it. If we come from the perspective of design principles, that is that this is not to be owned by one entity, that this is not an asset or a market that can be owned.
Why one person, because once markets have vested interests where you have more power than over other people, it’s just going to have a road crash like we’ve seen in the past. So it’s not about saying we’re going to have one silver bullet and all of a sudden we’re going to have kumbaya around the world.
We know that there is more money spent on harming the planet right now than there is in regenerating this planet. We all know this, we all know we’ve know the numbers. So how do we see. From harming to regeneration. And it’s not to say that crypto is going to solve this by raising an ICO. And all of a sudden you got $10 million.
You’re going to solve this. You realize on how much money you need to have to shift it’s trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars. But it comes down to behavior. It’s about those companies that are doing the harm for them to stand up and say, Oh, they’re shareholders to stand up and say, see ya.
I’m not having a relationship with you anymore. Or consumers saying, I’m not going to buy your stuff anymore. This is not a problem that a crypto industry can solve. It’s a shared problem. Therefore it does share solutions and it needs to be accountability, but we can’t build systems that are actually designed on.
The old way of thinking, and I get really passionate about this. You can hear my voice going a little bit more. Cause I get really quite cranky that all of a sudden, just because company has raised millions of dollars, we’re supposed to roll over and go. Great. Awesome. The problem solved. No, we as consumers need to stay.
And so will we still support these companies that are harming the planet as a shareholder? Should I still sustain my shares in these companies that are actually, we know are doing harm to the planet, politicians stand up and be accountable. This is not about saying pointing to blockchain and say, oh, you guys can solve the problem.
No, we can’t.
Antoine Walter: It’s fascinating because you’re not, I had that discussion on that microphone with Julian Kölbel and Florian Heeb, which are researchers at the university of Zurich, and they’ve been investigating the impact of impact investing. And the positive side of it is. Impact investing can be a trendsetter.
And if the rest of finance follows the trendsetter, then something’s happening. And you have organization who show that if 8% of finance was to go towards a carbon neutral or carbon negative direction, then you can solve climate change. But on the other hand, that relies on the assumption that the other 92 persons follow a bit, the trend.
Then you don’t have that much opportunity player who say, Hey, if everybody divests from, I don’t know, tobacco and. It’s a great opportunity because I can make some arbitrage there and be winning a lot of money. So it is a balance to strike and it’s about betters.
Katrina Donaghy: I appreciate the fact that the whole concept of decentralization a D finance and all that sort of stuff is really pushing the needle because it started 13 years ago with this associate white paper and look where we are now, it’s extraordinary where we are now, but we just can’t point to the industry and say, oh great, we’ve solved it.
All we need to do is build decentralized marketplaces and the problem solved. No, we have got a lot more work to do. And that comes down to how institutional regulatory frameworks are framed to how our politicians are. Folded into government and how governments need to be transparent and trusted by their citizens.
So it’s a roll up effect, but it is about if we actually thinking about marketplaces, where by nature is going to be at the heart of it, we just kind of sit it on a centralized exchange that’s owned by maybe, I don’t know how many people that are in the New York exchange that are run by one. And so that that’s all good.
We’re going to solve the problem. That’s just like the last thing you want to do, but it’s really about how you design these markets. And that’s where companies like mine do take on those design principles, but how cool would it be if every startup around the planet who were looking at this tech or looking at an aspect of the ecosystem, come from the same design principles, that would be an interesting place to.
Antoine Walter: that’s where you also acting as a trendsetter, because for instance, you are contributing to the world economic forum and you’re sending over some messages. How do they get to receive.
Katrina Donaghy: Well, the challenge, I mean, it’s yeah. It’s think right. That we were accepted into the world economic forum technology pioneers program in 2021.
But do you remember 2021 was COVID in 2022 is still COVID. So we’ve been one of those classes of 2021, whereby we’ve not been able to hang out with each other at all. So we’re still waiting for the opportunity for the hundred technology companies to come together as a cohort and sort of share our experiences.
But. The WF does provide a platform for us. I’m very fortunate. I haven’t, I have a lovely relationship with a WEF technology pioneers team, a shout out to same moon who is incredible and coordinating what he does. But yeah. It gets lost amongst all the other noise, I guess, too. But what we are seeing is the movement around and the WF are leading at this because as we know globally, there’s so many standards that exist trying to sort of set standards on how we measure and how we account and how we record and how we report.
So the global reporting initiative, the CDP, and then we have quite a lot of other. Um, standards and they’re all trying to do exactly the same thing. So the WF at the moment, it’s sort of doing this project to trying to sort of synthesize all those different standards and, and give companies the sort of, uh, a one lens to say, well, if you do it this way, you should be okay.
So it’s complicated if you’re an SMS. A small medium enterprise, which is largely what in Australia, I think 85% of our businesses in Australia, SMEs, you know, how. Speak to them, as opposed to speaking to the big conglomerates and things like that. How do you bring those SMEs across? And it’s very hard when they’re exhausted with COVID and flooding, and then all of a sudden, you have to say, by the way, you’ve got to be sustainable, you’ve got to have environmental goals and you’ve got to show you governance.
And, um, if you don’t well, you know, and then let go, and what do we do? So it’s a supply chain thing and it’s an ecosystem.
Antoine Walter: Talking of an SME. Let me go a bit back to civic ledger itself. What is your business model today?
Katrina Donaghy: It’s interesting because as we all know, when you start really early, the technology is just not right.
And because we were early, we had to learn a lot around how do we actually use this tech? How do we best use it? Does it actually do what we think it can do? And obviously a lot of it didn’t and a lot of it now is so our first phase really was about proving out. Attack in the first instance. So that was sort of stage one of civic ledger.
And we spent a fair bit of time working with governments. Yes, we did. In the early days we got to work with government. There were a lot more exciting back in 2016 and 17, and we got to explore and discover the potential of the technology. Particularly one of our favorite projects. Working with IP Australia, which is our patents office.
And we were doing NFTs of patents and creating a two-sided marketplaces for those patients to be discovered and to go into non-exclusive licensing arrangement between the buyer and the seller or the IP right owner and the person that wanted to license that. And that went to Geneva. It got presented at the WIPO the world intellectual property organization, which has YPO in Geneva.
And we got to present our work in April, 2019. And interestingly enough, just. Four weeks ago, they released their white paper on blockchain technology and we have a little quote. So
Antoine Walter: far whenever I heard of NFT, I always heard of it for let’s say speculation reasons and things I couldn’t understand. And couldn’t just picture and you just gave me a perfect example of what it could be doing in a clever base.
I never thought of,
Katrina Donaghy: it’s amazing. It’s one of the most powerful use case, because when you think about a non fungible token, it’s the rep representatives of a unique. It doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. And when you think about patents, patents are unique. And then we spent once they were actually granted because their uniqueness has been proven and assessed.
And the IP rights owner has been wounded. The person has been granted an IP, right. They only have it for 20 years in Australia. Anyway, we only have IP rights for 20 years. So you spend the next 20 years defending your IP. And that’s why lawyers make a hell a lot of money because you’ve got to defend your IP, you know?
So if you get any wind of some company, Kind of like in your area, then you get your lawyers out and you do a cease and desist and all that sort of stuff and spend all your money trying to defend it. Whereas if you actually could turn it the other way and make you make it payments open source, how cool would that be?
But you don’t actually lose your authority or your ownership across the asset, and you actually can control on how many representations of your patent is in the market to which you have non exclusively licensed out to other innovators. That would be so cool. So non fungible tokens are really critical when something is unique and you need to prove or authority and ownership and those property rights and its value.
And obviously a ledger is associated with that. The NFT is in the ledger. That’s where it is. And you’re taking a representation. You know, you actually have a representation of that through that non-exclusive licensing agreement, which is all run through smart contracts. So that was a very powerful use case because it really showed that it had a good utility.
And when we say utility utility is about purpose, what can I use it for? Does it get me anything? Can I get any benefit from this? Um, and in the early days with ICI, as you mentioned, ICI is in the early days, you’re looking around going, where’s the utility on this thing? Where am I going to use it? Why would I use it?
And then it’s like, well, you got to go to the exchange. You’ve got to exchange it for fear and you’ve got to hold your tokens. And then you’ve got to use your tokens. So get into the ecosystem. And then when you’re in the ecosystem, you can exchange and you kind of go, why can’t I just use cash? Like I just do tap and go, why I have to do this?
So the utility is really, really quite important. So interesting now, like it’s now 2022 and YPO have just released their, their blockchain white paper. And it’s a, it’s a brilliant white paper. It’s so well-written then I love the NFP space. Funny enough, what I love about the NFP space and what I hate about the NFP space.
But what I love about the center space is the diversity that is now entering the industry because when it was just blockchain and crypto, you had crypto bros. And boy did we have a lot of them now the NFTs about creatives? Yes. Who happened to be the most creative people on the planet women. So all of a sudden we’re seeing all of these incredible women entering the industry who are taking a position in the industry through the lens of NFTs as an artist, as a writer, as a designer.
And I, my gosh, like we’ve got blockchain wheat and weaken Australia starting on Monday. And it’s a full week and on Wednesday in Melbourne is an FTE day. And if you open up the website and you have a look at day three artists, creatives, storytellers, women, just walls and walls of these incredible brilliant women that are engaged in this industry because NFTs have given them a mechanism to monetize.
Their art, which when we’ve learned from the past that anytime you can go on the internet, you do a right-click on a JPEG, pull it down and you don’t care that it’s somebody else’s art. Now, how cool that we can’t do that, but you can still take the JPEG, but the ownership is still associated with the artist.
Antoine Walter: That is a fascinating word and I could be following your track. And then we go for another two hours, but I’d like to bring it back to my initial question, which was your business model, because I’m really intrigued when something is decentralized by since the, how do
Katrina Donaghy: we make money? Well, basically it is, it is still a SAS platform.
So you have to make sure that the experience is still very much like a SAS. So software as a service. The whole idea is that it’s about transactions, high value transactions and low value transactions. So low fail value transactions are like in the 0.00, 0 cent. Whereas high value transactions are associated with the value that’s being exchanged.
So low value transactions like admin, like set up your account, set up this, do that. Whereas high value transactions is when the actual war has been exchanged. If you’re buying, for example, five mega liters of water and in Asotin, you could be paying between 70 Australian dollars and 250 Australian dollars per megaliter.
And if you tally that up and it’s five megs, you know, it’s quite a lot of money so associated with that will actually be a transactional value. And that’s basically how you make money. And because we are shifting away from a theory, But still don’t panic. Everyone was still massive fans of the public blockchains and all that sort of stuff.
But unfortunately, if their home is now, we’ve been waiting since 2017, since this proteome 2.0 and we’ve been waiting for since 2017, since, you know, proof of stake, we’re still waiting. And now obviously for the NFTs and everything like that, it’s made it very hard for us to use the Ethereum and people will say, well, why don’t you use layer two?
And we go, well, the guests visa still unstable. And when you’re working with farmers and stuff like that, and regulators, the last thing you want to do is having a fluctuation, gas price, and then, you know, sitting their wallets with different eighth values, which is costing us a shitload of money. And then you haven’t pushed that money back onto the market.
It’s not sustainable, so we have to think differently. So we’re moving over to her Dara. Um, and, uh, Dara has a different consensus mechanism. It isn’t ecological DLT. So it’s a DLT. It’s not blockchain. It’s steals. It’s a different consensus mechanism and they use hash graph. It still has a compatibility with Ethereum virtual machine and we can still use our smart contracts, but the consensus mechanism is different.
And that means we don’t have to pay the costs like we have to do with Ethereum and they have a governance council. So it’s a lot different, but still within the world of transparency and order ability. So we’re playing around with their guardian, which is. Did you centralize identity and credentialing and tokenization and rules, which has really important.
And their head area, tokens system service and their Idera smart contract service. And it’s a better fit when, when people get really hung up about the energy consumption of blockchains, as I’m sure you know, your listeners go, but Trina, the energy. Can we get all of that. That’s where most of the we’ve been trying for all of this time, you know, don’t forget if motto was sitting around in 2008, imagining where it was now in 2022, would proof of work be the consensus mechanism that he or she, or they would have actually agreed upon knowing.
But the whole reason why we have the energy consumption is because then it makes it too expensive for a 51% attack. And some people will say, well, you can do a 51% attack and there’ll be engineers out there that say you could write. If you want to take over the network, you have to have money for all of that energy and then take out, stop the blockchain and go back about seven blocks and change the transactions to your favor and let it all go again.
Now nobody’s really incentivized to do that. So hence why we have all of this energy around protecting the actual integrity of the network. And when we think about. Supply chains and siloed data systems. And the way Google works in Amazon works and the way we actually consume energy for the way our web two currently works, it annoys me because I kind of go, what about all the inefficiencies around the way we actually mint money?
We get gold out of the ground. You know, you know, all of that sort of stuff. Nobody pays attention to. And it’s like, well, that’s pretty bad, but everyone, you know, wants to attack the blockchain because of the energy. The interesting thing about this industry is that we didn’t ask government for permission when the white paper came out and you had the community built on this and you know, nobody actually asked government, we didn’t ask the bank, we aren’t in us, you know, JP Morgan and, you know, Eli and Deloitte and all those big guys that get paid.
God knows how much money from government to keep the status quo. And it’s like, nobody asked us now it’s a trillion trillion dollar industry that is now emerging with central issue, digital currencies, defy, yielding, NFTs, new economies, new creatives, you know, just the whole way of free-thinking value. And now we’ve been able to lean into nature-based markets and say, how does this now?
By understanding the value of our nature. How do we actually account for it? How do we actually measure it? How do we put it into an independent system of record? We can all agree on how much is the sustainable yield of this planet. That is so extraordinary in 13 years people incredible. That’s what I get excited about.
I can feel it. I’m sure your listeners get.
Antoine Walter: I have a last question for you in that deep dive. And it’s a bit my crystal ball question, which is how do you see the future of civic ledger? Where are you heading? What will it tell you in five years that you are successful with whatever you’ve been doing since 2006?
Katrina Donaghy: What would be really amazing is that because where we are now as a company, we’re actually building the consistent underlying infrastructure where we’ll have a pre-trade permissioning thing, which is quite unique, but all the order management books, the entire order management, the matching systems will go through us across the world.
What goes through our system. And that’s really how. But that’s the track that we’re taking. So for example, the first stage is that all water markets across the planet that will be built on our technology. We’ll go through our order management system and we don’t have. The infrastructure owns it.
Everybody owns it, but we’ll always know the actual state of how much water we have on this planet and how much we’re using. So that’s really the ambition over the next five years is that we will be that underlying technology. And everyone goes, oh, well, we know that that’s been built by civic ledger. We know their history and we’ve got a whole ecosystem built with other startups into that as well.
So I really like to think that that’s where we’re going to be in five years.
Antoine Walter: In the traditional acception of business development, that would mean that you would have to have people sitting in different countries and promoting your solutions. Is that still true with blockchain or can you do everything based on
Katrina Donaghy: no.
Oh no, no. Look, it’s about partnerships and yeah. Really building relationships with other people who actually have the problem, know the work we’re doing and they come to us and say, look, we think that your work is really interesting. We’ve got this problem in our countries. So California is an area we’re in from South Africa where it’s building relationships and South Africa.
And. Prisma cloud. Who’s our strategic partner and business development guy, you know, who’s in France. So Fresno and I have known each other for many years. Isn’t it? You lose in France. And his background is the Murray darling basin authority. And he was there with me actually, right from the day one when I had to run.
Funding application to the Australian government in 2016 and, and phrase is doing an incredible job. And plus the world is so small. Now when we think about, you know, how we got together. So it’s really about building partnerships and relationships with the people who own the problem and then collaborating with.
Antoine Walter: Well, Katrina, it’s been a fascinating, deep dive. I think I could be doing number three in the, before. It wouldn’t be a problem because it’s really, I mean, you’ve, you’re passionate about what you’re explaining. It’s fascinating to follow your path, but I have to stop at some point. So let me propose you to switch to the rapid fire questions.
Rapid fire questions:
Antoine Walter: So in that last section, I try to have short questions, which aim for short answers, but don’t worry if you need to have a bit more time, I’m never cutting the microphone. And you’ll notice that the one side tracking is always me. My question would be what is the most exciting project you’ve been working on and why?
And that will have an idea of your answer.
Katrina Donaghy: Look, I would say critical minerals is extraordinarily interesting. The Australian government just released. Critical mineral strategy for 22 days ago and now workers in there with Everledger. Yes, they talk about a village, but our workers in there breaking grounds, breaking our heads.
But my gosh, so excited. Leading that as if in a frontier way and women, you know, Leanne Kemp, see I’ve ever led a Katrina CEO of civic ledger. Yes. You can tell that we’re the early kids, cause we’ve got veteran announced, but this is led by, um, a girl. Well, Kiwi girls, cause mainly on both women buy from New Zealand, so critical minerals.
Antoine Walter: Can you name one thing that you’ve learned the hard way?
Katrina Donaghy: Yeah. Startup land, hard work, being an entrepreneur is something that people go cool. Aren’t you an entrepreneur? I’m like, yeah. And I had work, look, this stuff is hard and I did not glamorize it, but learning by doing is always really hard. And it has its great wards and things like that.
But boy, you do make a lot of mistakes along the way, and you’ve got to have people telling you you’re making mistakes. So you can actually correct your behavior as soon as you possibly can. But doing entrepreneurial land is very hard.
Antoine Walter: So what was your biggest. Oh,
Katrina Donaghy: I think one of the biggest challenges when you start off doing this stuff is that you get really absorbed with the tech and you forget to do your basics of just governance within your own company, from the foundation.
So people who are going to start a company pay attention to your shareholders agreement. This will have to say,
Antoine Walter: is there something you are doing today in your job that you will not be doing in 10 years?
Katrina Donaghy: I don’t want to be doing zoom in 10 years time. I want to have a hologram. I want to be in, you know, somewhere else where I can actually interact with somebody, but without leaving, I can’t do this anymore. I think we’re all over it. I don’t want to do 2d anymore. I don’t want to, I want to do
Antoine Walter: 3d. I love that one.
What is the trend to watch out for in the water sector?
Katrina Donaghy: I think we’re finally going to see the importance of water. Finally, I think it’s going to be the driver. It’s going to be our lighthouse, that we will follow water stewardship and very place-based approaches to the way we manage our water as a public.
Good. But also as an economic driver, how
Antoine Walter: we do define.
Katrina Donaghy: What a stewardship is basically taking care of this, these assets, not only from a public good perspective, but from a cultural perspective and environmental perspective that we look at cultural values. We acknowledge our first nation peoples across the planet.
And re-install that relationship that we’ve taken away from them. We have to re-install their relationship with their water because it’s actually part of their history, their culture, and their religion and their spirituality. If
Antoine Walter: you were a word political leader, what would be your first action to influence the fate of the words?
What a challenge.
Katrina Donaghy: Oh, that’s very polemic. Oh my goodness. It’s a little bit polemic. What I’m about to say, but be patient, I would break down the institutional silos. I’d actually abolished the world bank and these massive institutions that have been built up over time. They do amazing work, but they’re just.
The self-interest and driven, and those institutions are just too large. We need to decentralize them. So still take the principles of these incredible organizations that do incredible stuff, but we need to decentralize them and bring them into local environments rather than having them in centralized cities.
Like, you know, and creating ivory towers. We need to decentralize.
Antoine Walter: So you see, we’re not that far from what it was telling about Carter shifts a minutes ago, which is like a bank decentralized. I know it’s, it’s not about Carter shift. It’s about saying that the word bank could be.
Katrina Donaghy: Micro banks, micro banks, you know, and these little nodes that are very local based.
So they understand the problems at the local level and enabling financial, bringing in private financing and public financing together to actually manage and solve problems that are local. ’cause at local level. People actually know their community. They know, and talking to the first nation peoples, they are, they have first scientists, literally their animals or their first scientists that are first nation.
People can tell us history about land and water and mother earth and father sky. And as you say to us, listen to local environment, it’s telling you on how to be better stewardships. So decentralized. Break those big institutions into decentralized nos, make them local based so we can understand and align obviously aligned with the STGs, but bring all of that back into a place-based environment.
Decentralization break down the silos.
Antoine Walter: I guess more muddiness would be agreeing with you and the Nobel committee somehow agrees with you on that. So you must be on the right path. The last question for me in that deep dive, would you have someone to recommend me that I should definitely invite as soon as possible?
Katrina Donaghy: do. I do. And she’s my favorite person on the planet in the water space. And that is the most beautiful Emma whisper. Thought where’s board. She is based in Amsterdam and she is a young emerging leader in digital water. She is the most incredible woman and her and I got to connect quite a few years ago and she brought her very big, very first water blockchain piece on my company and with another other companies.
And she is incredible. So I’m going to connect you with Emma and you will go down an incredible journey with her stories.
Antoine Walter: Well, I’m pumped up for that. And I have to think of quite a lot. And even more than that, for everything you share, it’s on these now, two parts of our discussion. If people want to follow up with you, where should I redirect them?
Katrina Donaghy: Civic ledger.com. We also have water ledger.com. Yes. I have a few websites done my own. Consolidating them at the moment. You can find me on LinkedIn, usually Katrina, Katrina, Donahue, or follow our company on LinkedIn. We also have Twitter handles civic, ledger, Katrina Donaghy. Our water ledger has a yes, I manage a lot of handles, but you can find me.
And also you just Google me and there’s a whole lot of stuff. Unfortunately, I have a very large digital footprint.
Antoine Walter: Well, I try to centralize all of those in the episode notes. So if you’re looking and listening to that, you shall have a look in this notes and find all the handles. And I have to say you were very reactive and reach out to you.
So I don’t know if I, but. Is it to approach and very convincing to discuss with, so this is a
Katrina Donaghy: global conversation and I’m only one voice. And the more voices that join this, there may, you know, it makes it happy for us cause we’re very lonely at the start. Um, and now we seem to see a convergence and it’s really about bringing more and more people into the conversation because it’s a multidisciplinary approach to solve a very complex.
Antoine Walter: Well, Katrina, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks a lot. And, um, I’m looking for what the future that you described. It sounds like a future where we’d like to thrive in. So I wish you a lot of success on that path.